Saturday, April 5, 2014

Four games, one start for Kubel

Chris Colabello watches his home run fly Friday.
When Ron Gardenhire sat veteran Jason Kubel for the opener against Chris Sale, the Twins manager took pain to say he's not platooning the left handed hitter with Chris Colabello.

Kubel, Gardenhire insisted, "hangs in there" well against lefties. Kubel sat Monday's game out , Gardy said, because Sale is just an exceptionally tough lefty.

Well, yes, Sale is exceptional. But Kubel has 949 career plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, not all of them exceptional, in his major league career, and he has a slash line of .234/.304/.374 in those trips to the plate. That's not good enough to justify using him as a DH or (considering his defensive limitations) corner outfielder against southpaws.

Colabello started against Sale. Kubel started the second game, against a right-handed starter.

The White Sox used a lefty again on Thursday -- and Colabello played, and Kubel sat. Colabello had a big game (6 RBIs), and on Friday -- against a righty -- he started again (and hit a home run).

I do not expect Colabello to become the full-time DH, at least not this quickly. And given Gardenhire's well-established distaste for platoons, I still expect that Kubel will get far too many chances to flail and fail against the southpaws.

But even if Gardenhire does limit Kubel's exposure to left-handed pitching, we should not expect the manager to acknowledge that he's platooning. That would be OK; I'd rather have the manager platoon and pretend he isn't, than pretend he doesn't need to platoon at all.

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